In Their Own Voices: The Reproductive Health Care Experiences of Detained Adolescent Girls

Academic Article


  • Background: Adolescent girls involved with the juvenile justice system have higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy than their nondetained peers. Although they may receive reproductive health care while detained, following clinician recommendations and accessing services in the community can be challenging. Objectives: This study aimed to determine the barriers this population faces 1) accessing reproductive health care and 2) following the recommendations they receive when they are in the community. Methods: Adolescent girls at a juvenile detention facility completed online surveys about their demographics and sexual health behaviors. A subsequent semistructured interview assessed their experiences with reproductive health care services. Results: Twenty-seven girls aged 14 to 19 were interviewed. The majority (86%) self-reported as Latina or Hispanic. The average age of sexual debut was 13.8 years. The major interview themes were 1) personal priorities and motivations affect decision making, 2) powerful external voices influence reproductive health choices, 3) accessing services "on the run" is particularly challenging, and 4) detention represents an opportunity for intervention and change. Conclusion: Adolescent girls who are detained within the juvenile justice system face reproductive health challenges that vary with their life circumstances. They frequently have priorities, external voices, and situations that influence their decisions. Clinicians who care for these young women are in a unique position to address their health needs. Eliciting girls' goals, beliefs, and influences through motivational interviewing, as well as developing targeted interventions based on their unique experiences, may be particularly helpful for this population.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Johnston EE; Argueza BR; Graham C; Bruce JS; Chamberlain LJ; Anoshiravani A
  • Start Page

  • 48
  • End Page

  • 54
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 1